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by Jennifer Currier — February 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Winter Foundry Cup logoCrystal City startup incubator Eastern Foundry is preparing for its second Foundry Cup, a themed competition for startups. Due to increased interest, the deadline to apply for the competition — which was originally scheduled for mid-January — has been extended to this Friday.

“There is a great deal of interest in this year’s Foundry Cup,” said Director of Partnerships and Events Lauren Schmidt. “Promising submissions have been rolling in steadily since we announced and because of a rather large influx of interested startups this January, we decided to extend our deadline.”

This winter’s event is called Foundry Cup: Portable Power. There is no application fee, and any startup working in or with an idea in this realm are welcome to apply.

According to the competition’s website, Eastern Foundry is seeking startups that create “effective off-grid power solutions” for men and women working and living in some of the world’s most challenging places. These can include FEMA first responders, military, USAID workers, hikers on isolated trails and more.

Winter Foundy Cup 2“The Foundry Cup is more than a competition and networking opportunity,” Schmidt said. “It creates a forum that brings together leaders and entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds and across generations to tackle one of the largest problems in the world right now.”

The competition is looking for ideas that are eco-friendly and cost-effective, specifically with the potential to decrease government spending on fuel and other power sources.

It’s also looking for entrants from virtually anywhere, not just locally. While Schmidt said most applications so far have been from the D.C. area, they’ve also received some from the West Coast, other countries and students from universities.

The inaugural Foundry Cup was held in June 2015, during which startups were challenged with finding ways to detect and treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and fourteen finalists competed for the $10,000 first place prize.

This year, Schmidt said things will be a bit different.

Winter Foundry Cup promoThe competition was shortened from 72 to 48 hours to keep entrants focused on displaying their best components and features on “Demo Day.” The new schedule also includes more time for networking, allowing competitors to interact with each other, government officials and other established business leaders.

While Schmidt said they expect at least 50 applications by Friday’s deadline, only 10 finalists will be selected, making this winter’s installment of the Cup more competitive. Those finalists — along with the venue — are expected to be announced on Feb. 15.

From then until Demo Day on March 25, the finalists will work to develop their ideas and prepare to present them to private business owners, government contractors, military and civilian agencies. The finalist startups will compete for $10,00 first place and $5,000 second place prizes. There will also be a “People’s Choice” award of $1,000.

Though it’s only the second installment of the competition, Schmidt said Eastern Foundry is hoping to make the Foundry Cup an annual event for startups to work to address timely and critical issues facing the world’s population.

“For this competition, we are hoping to advance and promote game-changing approaches to versatile, go-anywhere power sources that are long lasting and durable,” she said. “Our longer-term goal is to create a reliable and effective forum for exposure and discussion on how generations of innovators and startups are solving the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Photos courtesy of Eastern Foundry

by Jennifer Currier — January 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

CapApp logoAfter completing two Congressional internships, Arlington resident Tiroune Oates was determined to build a better way for visitors to tour the United States Capitol Building.

Oates’ solution is a virtual reality mobile application called CapApp. Still in development, the app will contain the history of the building and give guests a closer look at the artwork and artifacts in it. This includes the frescos that cover the inside of the rotunda, which loom nearly 200 feet above Capitol visitors’ heads.

The 23-year-old wanted to put all this information in the hands of the people when he realized not everyone who visited the Capitol was having an equal or even enjoyable experience. After speaking to both tour guides and visitors after their tours, Oates observed people in the Capitol were mostly neutral about their time there.

“I loved the time I spent on the hill, so it was unfathomable to me that anyone had a less than perfect experience,” he said. “It was upsetting. It prompted me to talk to people more to find out what the issues really were.”CapApp creator Tiroune Oates

One of Oates’ responsibilities as an intern was giving constituents tours of the Capitol, so he started to feel for himself what the tours were missing.

“As interns, we felt really embarrassed when we took out our notebooks or when someone asked a question we felt like we couldn’t answer,” Oates said. “I knew there were problems with the quality of information given and the quality of the tours themselves.”

“Then I thought, if this was all in an app, pulling out a phone to quickly find information that was accurate and share it would be much less cumbersome,” he continued. “I thought an app lent itself to an easier retelling of information and would greatly improve the overall experience at the Capitol.”

Now living near Shirlington, Oates is continuing work on building the app with developers. Much of this work has been trial and error as it’s the finance and philosophy major’s first thorough venture into technology.

“For the last year or so, I’ve taken every chance I get to learn the basics of coding or network with people in the business so I can better communicate with my developers and make the app as comprehensive as it can be,” he said.

Eventually, the CapApp will also be customizable for tourists, staff members and student groups alike. Oates believes these personal features, the virtual reality element and the instant accessibility to everything in the Capitol will put his app bounds ahead of the existing visitor guide apps coordinated by the Architect of the Capitol.

More than that, Oates said the decisions he made while creating the app were all based on accounts of tour guides he grew close to. He said he continues to make frequent trips to the Capitol to get feedback from these people, who have become reliable friends.

CapApp homepage“When I first had the idea, it was because I needed it and knew it would be helpful,” he said. “But this app quickly became more than that. It was built based on the stories of all the people who could use it best, and their suggestions have been incredibly helpful.”

“It’s a really exciting project for me, and it’s been a good three weeks,” Oates said. “The results of this Kickstarter campaign will help me figure out where to go next. The possibilities for the app are great, and I’m excited to see where it goes next.”

When it’s first released — which Oates hopes will be sometime this year — CapApp will be free and available for iPhone.

by Jennifer Currier — January 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Fonteva Logo (via Fonteva.com)A software company based in Ballston is working to make its flagship association management application as efficient as possible via the cloud.

Fonteva, Inc. was founded in 2010. It focuses on “easy-to-use and innovative” software for associations, universities and governments to help streamline an organization’s management of members, alumni or resident services.

Its flagship customer relationship management (CRM) software is called MemberNation, a service for member-based organizations that create and manage subscriptions and services using online portals.

The application is completely built on the Salesforce platform. Using cloud technology, Salesforce serves as a host for other developers to solve management problems as they see fit, using and integrating the infrastructure into their own product.

MemberNation has been on the market for about three and a half years and targets both trade and professional associations. It can be credited with much of the company’s recent growth, making Forbes’ Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America. Last year, Fonteva was ranked No. 1527. The company made the top 500 in 2014, making the list — alongside a handful of other Arlington-based businesses — at No. 286.

Arlington proved to be an ideal location to encourage this growth. Its proximity to Washington, D.C. not only put Fonteva among a hub for the types of associations MemberNation primarily targets, but it also allowed them to recruit talent from the greater Metro area.

Most recently, one of Salesforce’s own joined the Fonteva team to help continue building and expanding MemberNation’s capabilities.

Chris Noone is now Fonteva’s Vice President of Business Development after being a Salesforce partner managing the company’s public sector.Fonteva Online Portal (via Fonteva.com)

“The Fonteva founders really saw an opportunity to build on the success of Salesforce and wanted to use it as a platform because of its ability to scale,” Noone said, describing the company’s beginnings. “They saw a niche space and an opportunity to go after this market. I saw what they were doing, I loved the idea, I saw the opportunity for growth, and I decided to jump on board.”

One of Noone’s first tasks is preparing to launch four new product lines based on MemberNation.

“We’re working on four different feature sets for our flagship product so that all the benefits of the cloud can come to realization,” he said.

One of the products, called Spark Framework, is Fonteva’s own platform for building new software and applications. The others are called Engage, Charge and Assemble Events and are applications that will provide additional accessibility, e-commerce, event planning and management services.

As Fonteva continues to expand and build on MemberNation’s capabilities, Noone said they’ve recently chosen to do so with product extensions available on the company’s own application marketplace to preserve the integrity of their original product.

“We want to initiate our own marketplace so if we want to keep innovating, we don’t have to make our base product slower or larger,” Noone said. “It’ll also allow us to provide our customers with options for the features they want.”

In his first week officially on the job, Noone shared his excitement for MemberNation’s success, but even more for pursuing new opportunities for Fonteva’s services.

“We’ve barely tapped the market, so we’ve got a long way to go to gain leadership in that space,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for new challenges, so it’s much more about messaging and focusing on a new customer base, but it’s not changing our delivery.”

“We don’t ever want to lose focus on what our true calling is,” he added.

Photos via Fonteva.com

by Jennifer Currier — January 4, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Last week, we took a step back to check in with previously featured Arlington startups that have experienced growth over the last year, including OnYou, GoGlove and Cards Against Urbanity, the game brainchild of the founders of fellow startup GreaterPlaces.

But these companies aren’t the only ones in Arlington that are thriving and deserve a head nod in a year-end check-in, starting in the world of mobile technology.

DrinkMateA little more than a year ago, EdgeTechLabs founder Shaun Masavage resigned from his job at the Office of Naval Research to work full-time on DrinkMate. Though the smartphone breathalyzer originally only worked for Android phones, the iPhone compatible version of the product will be available this month.

Masavage said much of 2015 was “quite the year of development” and is planning to roll out other new products in 2016. In the near future, the company is also planning to move into the Crystal City WeWork space from its existing office near Clarendon.

Another mobile application-based startup was still in development when it was first featured, but Notify AnyWhere recently launched its application for Android and web platforms.

“The primary focus of Notify AnyWhere was to be able to provide a single platform to reach millions of people irrespective of their access to Internet or other networks,” founder and CEO Ajay Maheshwari said in an e-mail update.

Notify AnyWhere launched appHe added this purpose hasn’t changed, and the app consolidates all means of communication — social media, e-mail, text messaging, and automated voice calls — to notify users via a single platform to reach these masses of people. It’s still free to download, and paid packages are available for users who plan to share messages via the app.

In addition to the United States, Notify AnyWhere now has subscribers in Canada, South America, the United Kingdom, China, India, and other parts of Europe and Asia. Some of these include paying subscribers who have utilized the app for everything from election campaigns to weather and other emergency alerts.

The Notify AnyWhere team has grown significantly, and Maheshwari said so have opportunities for the app, including interest from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Justice.

“With the exponential growth we have seen in 2015, we are more focused and determined to achieve our goals,” he said. “Giving back to the community in whatever way we can is our mantra and that keeps us motivated and energized.”

Technology-based job search company Snagajob also has exponential growth to report for 2015, more specifically in the last six months.

Snagajob motto and new "snagger"The employment website and application has attracted more than 65 million job seekers, 15,000 employers and features more than one million job opportunities, according to company spokeswoman Lauren Dyke. Snagajob has also made in-house improvements, hiring 100 of its own job-seekers — also known as “snaggers”  — and launching two new updates to its mobile app for Android and Apple.

“I am proud and humbled by how much we have grown in such a short amount of time,” CEO Peter Harrison said. “I am confident this incredible momentum will only continue into 2016 as we accelerate our development of innovative products, expand our workforce, and increase our strategic alliances.”

With such growth, the company has quickly filled its Arlington office and has spread its 300 total employees between Arlington and Richmond as it celebrates 16 years since first launching.

Some things, however, you can’t totally rely on technology for. Moving is one of those things, and Rosslyn-based startup ValueCrates wanted to make that process as painless as possible when it first launched in the summer of 2014.

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by Jennifer Currier — December 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Success in business isn’t always easily defined as it varies from company to company, industry to industry, market to market. This is especially true for startups, as success often relies on using trends and feedback to grow and explore new opportunities, even if they’re different than the ones that inspired the company in the first place.

ARLnow has profiled several startups who have done this. After first being profiled a year ago, some of them experienced positive growth in 2015 and have plans to continue to grow in 2016.

OnYou's iPhone case and magnetOne of these is OnYou, a company that created a magnetic armband phone case specifically designed for runners, bicyclists and other fitness buffs. While the magnets in the armband are strong enough to keep smartphones safe and in place during such activities, the phone can easily be detached from the armband and used, for example, to change the music or answer a text message.

This summer, OnYou co-counder Scott Bauer — who started the company while he was still in grad school at George Mason University — reported that after running a successful Kickstarter campaign. the company won a business competition in April 2015. By July, OnYou was selling products from its own website and shipping products directly to customers.

According to their Facebook page, OnYou has upgraded its armband design and will be unveiling new products after the new year.

In another sector of the wearable cellular technology world, GoGlove has also moved from the pre-sales of a successful Kickstarter and is selling the product from its own website and on Amazon. The Bluetooth gloves allow wearers to answer their cell phones, change music or control apps without taking a phone out of their pocket.

GoGlove cofounder Michael Conti“Feedback from initial sales have been great,” GoGlove co-founder Michael Conti said. “A lot of buyers have e-mailed us saying that it was a huge hit as a Christmas gift.”

Since the company was first featured about a year ago, they’ve developed other Bluetooth products. Bluz — a Bluetooth development kit that operates via the cloud — now has its own Kickstarter and is available for pre-sale. Conti added they’ve also been contacted by other companies interested in integrating the wireless technology into their own products.

Another startup that’s realized new opportunities in their segment this year is Cards Against Urbanity, a parody card game that has now proved as the most effective means of connecting planning firms and the people with the most concerns — the residents.

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by Heather Mongilio — December 21, 2015 at 9:10 am 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Forward Funded logo (Courtesy of Brendan Snow)A startup based out of Crystal City is looking to help people save up for items they want to buy online.

Forward Funded, a startup in Eastern Foundry’s acceleration program, helps people save money for items by creating a digital envelope system, said founder Brendan Snow.

“We have a website that makes it really easy for people to save up for something in our e-commerce store,” Snow said.

The goal of Forward Funded is to help people save for items instead of using credit and ultimately ending up in debt if they can’t pay when the bill arrives, he said.

The company, which is in its pre-launch phase, is a Walmart affiliate, meaning that all items in the e-commerce store can be found at Walmart.com. Essentially, customers will go to Forward Funded and select items that they want to purchase. When they get to checkout, instead of buying it right away, they have the choice to save money in the digital envelope.

The digital envelope is based off of the envelope system, where people would divide their paychecks into different envelopes in order to make sure they had enough money to pay bills or buy items, Snow said.

With Forward Funded, people are able to store money in the digital envelope based off a payment plan of four months or six weeks, with the option to set up a custom plan. Forward Funded then draws money from the user’s checking account to the digital envelope every weeks to make sure they have enough to buy the item by the time the plan is done.

Users have the option to change plans or cancel them at any time. The website will keep users updated with availability and price of the objects they have saved up in their envelope.

“So we’re giving people the option of bringing the price down and saving for items,” Snow said.

While the website won’t launch for another few months, Forward Funded may be used to help people plan for their holiday shopping next year.

“You can do all of your shopping early,” Snow said. “And you can get everything you want for your family — and even some aspirational items — without going into debt or needing incredible discipline.”

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by Jennifer Currier — December 14, 2015 at 10:05 am 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Coppola Logo (via The Coppola Firm)A new Arlington law firm is now offering writing services for area attorneys to help them draft case briefs for appeals.

Virginia native and George Washington University Law School graduate Anthony Coppola launched The Coppola Firm, PLC in October to help alleviate some of the writing and court document preparation burden off other firms with excessive case loads.

“There are a lot of larger firms who know who their strong writers are and utilize them,” Coppola said. “I think a lot of the smaller firms don’t necessarily have that luxury, especially because some of those are trial attorneys that don’t often get appeals. I can help a lot of people like that.”

Trial attorneys, he explained, focus on oral skills as their job is to present spoken arguments in courts. Appeals, however, must have well-written briefs and documents to be successful.

“Larger firms can usually push cases around a lot more easily, but other firms can get overwhelmed with their case loads,” he added. “When this happens and motions start to stack up on people’s desks, I can help by getting them written and getting them out.”

But legal writing was never something Coppola expected to do.Anthony Coppola, Esq. (via The Coppola Firm)

“When I was in school, I didn’t like writing at all and I wasn’t great at it,” he said. “My last year though, I decided to take another chance at a writing class and I really enjoyed it.”

After graduating, Coppola accepted a job with a writing consulting firm in Washington, D.C., preparing appellate briefs on a contract basis. A few years into his time there, mentors and peers started telling the young lawyer he could have the beginnings of a business of his own.

“Career counselors kept telling me I could have a good business here, I would just need to grow it,” he explained. “At that time, I didn’t have any kind of entrepreneurial background, so I didn’t act on that advice right away.”

That’s when Coppola stepped away from law for a bit, working for two different tech companies. Along the way, he kept getting pulled back to the idea of a law firm specifically for writing.

“I gained a kind of entrepreneurial spirit when I was there, and I spent a few months meeting with my mentors and figuring out what this would look like as a business,” Coppola said. “And now I’m here.”

Since he is an attorney at law, The Coppola Firm is, indeed, a law firm, not a consulting business. Taking the advice of both the District of Columbia Bar and the Virginia State Bar, he decided starting a firm would present him with the most opportunity.

This distinction, Coppola said, is an important one to make because he can give both grammatical and legal advice, when the situation requires it.

The Coppola Firm is working on gaining momentum and building a client base. Its founder is focused on connecting with people in the industry and is open to growth in the future.

“I’m just trying to get out there and meet people,” Coppola said. “I’m genuinely interested in getting to know people and hearing their stories through my work.”

After growing up in the area, he’s excited those people will be in Arlington.

“There are a lot of great people and businesses here,” he said. “It just feels comfortable. It’s why I live here and why I work here.”

by Heather Mongilio — December 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

BKE logo (Courtesy of BKE)An Arlington company is attempting to eliminate human error from accounting by focusing more on technology and less on accountants.

Bookkeeping Express, or BKE, is using technology to eliminate as much human touch as possible when it comes to accounting, said CEO Keith Mueller.

“We start with the premise that no data should get into the ledger by someone typing it in,” Mueller said.

Technology is more reliable, and it helps drive the cost down. It is also what sets BKE apart from other accounting firms, he said, adding that he could not go into detail about the business model due to privacy policies.

In general, the company is replacing the traditional roles at an accounting firms with people with computer science backgrounds. Where accounting firms use humans to report and calculate data, one could expect a computer program at BKE.

The accounting company uses cloud-based technology, meaning data can be accessed anywhere instead of on a desktop computer.

“Our BKE applications are all cloud-based to drive client interactions no matter where or when they need access,” Mueller said. “This allows our clients to be more efficient, save time and also allows for easy sharing of data with our team of experts and the client where and when we both require it.”

Traditionally, businesses use desktop applications to do accounting, he said, adding that costs accrue from constantly updating software. Introducing technology to accounting has worked well for the Ballston-based company, Mueller said.

“We’re using technology to eliminate literally all the data,” Mueller said.

BookKeeping Express (Courtesy of BKE)

He added using technology allows the company to keep the costs down and many franchises use the accounting firm because it provides a good quality service at a lower price.

Among some of its clients are big name chains like Five Guys, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Great Clips.

“From a franchisee perspective, we deliver good books at a good cost,” Mueller said.

BKE provides accounting services, including data entry and reporting, as well as expense and payroll management for each of its clients. In addition to its general services, the company provides individualized consulting and accounting features based on different industries.

For example, for gyms, spas and salons, BKE can provide membership revenue tracking and a bookkeeper who specializes in the industry. For quick-service restaurants like Five Guys and Auntie Anne’s, the company can help the franchisees with profit and loss statements, among other services.

Having an office in Arlington has helped the company expand its technological accounting services, Mueller said. The company also draws from the local applicant pool provided by nearby colleges.

“We love being in Arlington,” he said.”Great location. Great restaurants. Lots of talent.”

by Buzz McClain — November 30, 2015 at 11:00 am 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is a Metro-accessible space featuring a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces and a stage for formal presentations.

When Christopher Doorley was looking for a content management system (CMS) to help build a mobile application for a large membership-based client, he couldn’t find anything that fit the bill.

So, like any innovative entrepreneur, he decided to build one in-house.

The original client — a large union — liked it, and soon others were asking for something similar, including firms and nonprofits that were much smaller than those of the unions. “They said they loved what we did for the [bigger firms] and asked if we could do it for them,” Doorley says.

Christopher DoorleyAfter adapting the subscription-based platform to accommodate cost-effectiveness scales, the CMS has proven to be so successful with only word-of-mouth marketing that Doorley, CEO and co-founder, has spun it off into its own business, Yellowstone Technologies. The platform, after development at Crystal City’s 1776, is ready for launch this week.

Yellowstone — the work-in-progress codename for the project eventually stuck — answers a vast number of needs for membership-based organizations, of which there are many. Nonprofits, churches, sports groups, clubs, Scout troops and the like with dozens or hundreds of members have the same needs as Yellowstone’s other target clients: international and national organizations with hundreds of thousands of members.

“The goal is to make it cost effective and affordable to all of them,” Doorley says. “We don’t want to have to differentiate between a running club with 25 people and a local diocese that has a couple of dozen chapters and tens of thousands of members.”

Yellowstone helps organize and disseminate the valuable communications an organization requires to keep everyone — or segmented fractions of everyone — in the loop and on the same page. It also frictionlessly interfaces with existing products, such as Google Groups, iCal and various tools used by nonprofits.

Even existing blog posts, photos, calendars, newsletters and other materials are sent to mobile devices in a readable format.

As for other products that do similar things, Doorley points out that Facebook Groups and Google Groups, for example, “are tools that facilitate digital communities. We’re trying to build tools that facilitate in-person communities.”

A church is a good example, and Yellowstone is conducting trials with Arlington churches. One communications director, Doorley says, complained that no one was reading the church newsletter, the main organ for communicating to the congregation. “She sees [Yellowstone] as a replacement for their newsletter,” Doorley says. “They hope to make it useful and get it to where people are.”

One area union is already using Yellowstone, and even in the beta testing stage it’s a hit.

“This application is probably the most essential thing we need in communicating,” says Korey Hines, the secretary and treasurer of the Annandale-based Communications Workers of America Local 2222.

Hines noticed that the national CWA was using a nifty mobile application — Yellowstone, as it turns out — and asked for a version for his own chapter. “I liked the layout and the fact they customized it for our mission,” he says. “They weren’t just giving us a product and walking away.”

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by Heather Mongilio — November 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

BushyTail Health logo (Courtesy of George Hwang)A new app is aiming to help people with chronic illness lead healthier lives through a set of games where participants earn money for meeting goals.

With BushyTail Health, people with chronic illnesses will be able to wager money that they will be able to complete a personal goal in six months. Those who cannot accomplish the goal forfeit their money, but those who achieve their goal get their money back plus an extra bonus, said co-founder Dr. Jason Hoefling, an anesthesiologist at Georgetown University Hospital.

With chronic illnesses, people often don’t feel sick so they become less compliant, said co-founder and Arlington resident Dr. George Hwang, who’s also an anesthesiologist at Georgetown.

“It is hard to make people recognize that they are sick and scare tactics don’t work,” he said.

With BushyTail, the doctors are relying on financial incentives and motivation to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles. The app is still in its design phase but the co-founders hope to release it early next year, Hwang said. BushyTail Health is a startup under the 1776 incubator program in Crystal City with backing from MedStar Health.

To use BushyTail, players will download the free app and set a personal goal. The app will connect them with other people who have similar goals or illnesses to create a game. A pot of money will be created from each of the participants’ wagers. If everyone completes their goal, they each walk away with the same amount of money they put in. If someone drops out or fails to achieve their goal, the remaining players will walk away with their money plus a cut of the leftover money.

Goals will be set so that they are attainable for each person and BushyTail will offer support and help, giving the participants a good chance of earning their money, Hoefling said.

“The entire experience is not designed to take money from people for the company,” he said.

The participants are given complete control over whether they complete a goal or not, such as losing weight or keeping their blood sugar level at good numbers, said

“This game is not gambling because you have all the control in the world,” Hoefling said.

Participants will be able to link the app to their lab results from lab services like Quest or LabCorp so that the data supporting their progress is objective and prevents a “fudge factor,” Hwang said.

“It is pretty unique that we’re using lab data, but its what separates from other apps,” he said.

The idea behind BushyTail is based on research, Hoefling said, adding that medical research suggests that the best way to change human behavior is through financial incentives and motivation.

“We encourage people to waiver an amount of money that will motivate them,” he said. “If it’s something that will hurt to lose, it’s more motivational.”

The doctors will be using the app to collect their own data on human behavior, looking to find information that can help physicians better treat people with chronic illnesses, Hoefling said.

“You’re obviously hoping to find what makes people better because it is so hard,” he said.

by Heather Mongilio — November 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Eastern Foundry background that will be used during competition(Updated Nov. 24 at 4:55 p.m.) A startup competition hosted by an Arlington incubator is accepting applications for the best services or products for energy conservation.

Eastern Foundry, a startup incubator in Crystal City that focuses on government contracting, is holding the Foundry Cup. Applications will be accepted until Jan. 15 with finalists announced on Feb. 1.

For its second cup, the incubator is focusing on energy conservation and is looking for commercial products that are environmentally-conscious and relatively inexpensive.

“The competition is focused on advancing solutions that allow individuals to generate, store and conserve power,” said Jill Melnicki, a spokeswoman for Eastern Foundry. “Any or all of these solutions will reduce the carbon footprint, as well as decrease government spending and save and improve lives.”

According to Melnicki, the U.S. government uses more than 12.6 million gallons of oil a day in the U.S. and spends at least $14 billion on fuel.

“The challenge was designed in consultation with experts from the U.S. Government and Washington area think tanks who identified portable power as one of our government’s most pressing needs and one of the areas in which the private sector could provide a tremendous help,” she said.

Eastern Foundry is specifically looking for innovative products that help soldiers, such as a way to keep a radio on longer, she said. Eastern Foundry founder Geoff Orazem is a veteran.

“Eastern Foundry is hoping to see game-changing approaches to versatile, go-anywhere power sources that are long lasting and durable to meet the needs of the American soldier,” Melnicki said. “Solutions that will make his radio lighter and keep it charged longer. Solutions that will keep her laptop and mobile phone working. Solutions that will keep their base cool in the desert sun and resupplied by a fuel truck less often.”

The winner of the competition will get the chance to work with NSTXL, a company that helps speed the process for working with the federal government. Working with the company will allow the startups to turn its product idea into a reality quicker.

Eastern Foundry is also planning to connect winners with Arsenal Venture Partners, which works with areas of the Department of the Defense dedicated to energy conservation.

The competition is not the first time Eastern Foundry has turned its attention to energy. One of the startups in its incubator, Alytic Technology, works to come up with solutions to help the Navy conserve power.

The incubator partners with multiple energy conservation companies including E2 and Operation Free.

The competition this spring will be 48 hours, with time for networking, Melnicki said.

“Eastern Foundry is looking for a great power generation, storage or conservation concept,” she said. “Maybe a soldier portable solar or wind capability, a system to allow bases to turn their trash into power, advanced batteries that support operational flexibility, or a solution that lets one volt of energy do twice as much.”

by Heather Mongilio — November 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Govlish logo (Courtesy of Robert Mander)A startup based out of a Crystal City incubator is looking to help break down the cacophony of government abbreviations and acronyms.

Govlish, a startup out of Eastern Foundry, is a searchable online database of acronyms and abbreviations used by the state and federal governments.

“Govlish is a data-driven tool for navigating our government maze — the largest, most complex organization on the planet,” said founder Robert Mander.

The idea behind Govlish is that there are hundreds of thousands acronyms used by governments, both federal and state, and many times there are acronyms with multiple definitions.

For example, there are 14 different terms that are abbreviated to “CIP” in the government. For one department, it might mean “clean in place,” but another might use it for “College Intern Program.”

Finding what a specific term means and in the right context can take up to 30 minutes by using a Google search, but with Govlish it would take 25 seconds, Mander said.

“I learned very early on that you cannot understand the government without learning the government language,” he said.

Right now, people use Google to look up terms, and according to Google’s index for government term searches, 14 million people are searching different acronyms. Mander said he expects to capture the “lionshare” of the people once he launches Govlish.

The idea for Govlish came from Mander’s experience as a technical writer for the government. He had collected lists of the different acronyms and abbreviations he did not know, and noticed he wasn’t alone.

“I’ve been to hundreds of meetings and no one does that [ask what a term means],” Mander said. “No one wants to admit they don’t know something.”

With Govlish, people will be able to look up the acronyms during a meeting in a private manner, allowing them to follow along with a meeting, he added.

People can also look up the different acronyms under departments by using tracing features.

Once launched, there will be three different user plans, Mander said. One will be access to an app, or a “cheat sheet,” meant for the casual user, most likely with a $0.99 access fee.

The app will allow people to search different acronyms, or if a term is a true acronym, the app will pronounce the word.

One example would be the Freedom of Information Act, which goes by the word FOIA and pronounced as a word instead of individual letters. Users could either speak “FOIA” into the app or search “FOIA” and have the app pronounce the word and explain what it means, Mander said.

Govlish also offers a website and data sets, both which would be paid for on a subscription basis, Mander said. Those who buy access to the website or the data sets, will be able to use the app for free.

Mander plans to provide a subscription model for nonprofits, government contractors and schools, he said.

by Heather Mongilio — November 2, 2015 at 1:50 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Syde (Courtesy of Syde)

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.)An Arlington resident has created a new way to play fantasy football.

Rishi Nangia is the CEO of Syde, an app that gives people a new, simpler way to play daily fantasy sports by providing the teams for the players instead of making them create each side from scratch.

“We want to give people a vehicle for people to have fun with fantasy sports without being bogged down by needing to have a full team or roster,” Nangia said.

Traditional season long fantasy sports require people to build up a fantasy sports team and follow athletes over the regular season. With daily fantasy sports games, like Syde, players are responsible for single games.

“We offer the same excitement that you get over 22 weeks in one day,” Nangia said.

Syde makes fantasy sports simple, Nangia said, so that anyone can use the app.

The app provides the two fantasy teams for each game, or “sydes.” Each “syde” is equally-matched and can consist of a full team or just a couple of players, Nangia said.

Syde teams screen (Courtesy of Syde)

“We present you with two sides of the equation, A or B, and we ask you which side you think will win,” he said.

Nangia has a team dedicated to coming up with the different “sydes” so that each “have the look [and] feel of [equality],” he said.

“I don’t think its a process that is repeatable by anyone else,” Nagia said.

The team also works to make sure that matchups are not repeated.

“We don’t repeat in any week and we try not to repeat in any consecutive week,” Nangia said. “So if we play Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you probably won’t see that for the rest of the season.”

Players made a $5 bet for each game and can win $9. In the future, Nangia said he hopes to give more options for bets in the app’s future.

By providing the teams for the players, Syde makes fantasy sports easier to play, he said, adding that people don’t have to worry that they have all the required athletes for a team if they are handed the two options.

“We want to keep this open to everyone,” Nangia said. “And we’re finding more and more that people are playing with less knowledge about NFL.”

Syde offers a new game every day, but games might not always be resolved in a day, he said.

For example, if one “syde” was Tom Brady and the other Peyton Manning, the game would be resolved after each quarterback played that week.

Currently the app can only offer one game, regardless of how many sports are in season. In the future, Nangia said he would like to offer at least one game per sports and offer games that would combine athletes from different sports for games.

Nangia would also like to give players the option of customization, he said. Once that is added, players would be able to set up the two “sydes” and offer the games to their friends or any app users.

“If a user creates a game, for another person to accept the other side, it has to be even,” Nangia said.

The company is mostly Arlington based, with the app “created, so to speak, out of my garage,” he said. Living in Arlington has contributed to the app’s success because of the strong talent pool that lives in and around the county.

“I think the talent pool is second to none in Arlington,” Nangia said.

by Heather Mongilio — October 26, 2015 at 1:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

It’s no secret that Arlington is home to dozens of startups and more than a few incubators.

Inc., a magazine covering business and entrepreneurship, recently identified three reasons as to why Arlington is attracting so many startups to the area: location, talent pool and access to government resources.

Arlington’s location gives startups the big city feel without many of the traffic hassles. It also gives better access to the Dept. of Defense, which is among the largest of potential customers, Anna Hensel writes.

The proximity to the federal government is one of the top reasons Arlington is attractive to defense and technology startups, said Geoff Orazem, the founder of incubator Eastern Foundry in Crystal City.

Startups backed by Eastern Foundry are often looking for federal grants or contracts, and having the access to the Pentagon or other areas of the federal government makes it easier to secure funding, Orazem said.

“Working in the federal government requires a lot of relationships,” he said.

Arlington and startup incubators in the county provide various ways for companies to network, said Cara O’Donnell, spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development.

“The networking opportunity is excellent here as well — this is where startups can meet the individuals that can give them their big break, whether it’s through initiatives like TandemNSI, pitch competitions or workshops through our BizLaunch program,” she said.

Being so close to D.C. also means access to mass transit and to three different airports. Startup founders and employees can easily hop on the Metro to travel to and from D.C. and the proximity to Reagan National Airport, as well as Dulles Airport and Baltimore Washington International, is helpful for companies requiring travel.

When startups are first starting, the public transit can help cut down living costs. But for the most part, being able to go car-free or having access to an airport are added bonuses and not necessary for a startup’s growth, Orazem said.

There are some Arlington startups that need the access to the airport, which makes the county’s location a prime destination. Ingo and mProve Health, two companies in Arlington credit the access to airports as one of the reasons the companies set up shop here. Both require travel as they both have multiple international clients.

Arlington is located in area with numerous colleges. Although Arlington is only home to one university — Marymount — there are several key satellite campuses here.

“In Arlington startups also have access to unprecedented university research and opportunities to connect with federal defense and research agencies — the very agencies that seek high-tech businesses to build on top secret technology,” O’Donnell said.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia universities also provide a rich pool of talent for whom Arlington is an attractive first post-college home. Inc. noted that 71 percent of Arlington residents ages 25 and up held a bachelor’s degree. A strong talent pool is important for startups, Orazem said, adding that to build a startup, entrepreneurs need a good team, a good idea and capital.

(more…)

by Heather Mongilio — October 19, 2015 at 2:20 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Invincea logo (Courtesy of Invincea)An software company born out of an Arlington-based research lab says it has the solution for stopping certain types of large computer hacks, such as the recent federal Office of Personal Management hack.

Invincea helps prevent information leaks and hacks by protecting companies from human error.

Hackers commonly use “spear phishing,” which is when a hacker sends an email to an unsuspecting that appears to be from someone they know, with a link containing malicious code. The virus only enters the computer when the person who receives the email clicks on the link, said Invincea CEO Anup Ghosh.

“October is cybersecurity month. And you’ll see a lot of software companies telling their employees, ‘hey, don’t click on suspicious link.’ But the reality is employees will always click on links, they’ll always open attachment,” Ghosh said. “Not because they are bad, but because they don’t know.”

Invincea was born out of Ghosh’s first venture, a research and development company that later became Invincea Labs. Ghosh was working with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) on the first company when he noticed that most computer attacks came in the forms of links in emails.

Ghosh built the software while he was a faculty member at George Mason University and started Invincea. The main company, Invincea, has its headquarters in Fairfax, while the original research and development company, Invincea Labs, operates out of Ballston.

The name Invincea came out of the software’s ability to stop threats that other antivirus programs do not, Ghosh said.

“I think it represents our core values in the product which is its meant to signal strength,” he said. “That our product can protect from any threat.”

Invincea (Courtesy of Invinea)

Invincea works to protect data two different ways. The first is a preventative measure.

When an employee clicks on a link in a spear phishing email, Invincea’s software isolates the code and examines it in a virtual space. The software looks at the code to see if there is anything dangerous, and if there is, it destroys the virus, Ghosh said.

“When it comes to spear phishing, which is how they get on the network, security is depending on users,” he said. “They depend on user to not click the link, which we know does not happen.”

However, for many customers, the computers are already compromised by a virus when they hire Invincea.

“Once we identify a machine as compromised, we will quarantine that machine from the enterprise network,” Ghosh said.

By quarantining the computer, Invincea’s software prevents the virus from hopping to other computers on the network and accessing data, he said.

Invincea’s software can stop hacks like the OPM leak or the attack on Target, which leaked personal information from thousands of customers. Attacks like these happen all the time and in all types of sectors, including government and retail, Ghosh said.

“Every single day, Invincea stops sophisticated threats that most security networks don’t,” he said.

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